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Good Governance
16 Sep 2018 Post by: Grant Adams , Steven Moe

1. Govern don’t manage: Avoid getting into too much of the detail of how the trust operates. You shouldn’t be talking about minor issues at the Board level.
Yes! What is our strategic plan for the next 5 years?
No! Can we save $7 per month by purchasing paper in bulk?

Your rating out of 10?______

2. Have clear agendas: Don’t let meetings turn into a conversation that starts “what are we talking about again”? Have a clear defined standing agenda that then has key points added.
Yes! Circulate agenda in advance along with relevant pre-reading. Read it.
No! Show up late and try to remember what was discussed last time, with no agenda to guide the meeting (and ensure it finishes on time).

Your rating out of 10?______

3. Board Charters: This is a document that can provide overall guidance – set out role, relationships, how decisions made, procedures, inductions, committees.
Yes! Consider having a Board Charter and clearly set guidance out.
No! Continue without clear thinking and strategy behind what you are doing.

Your rating out of 10?______

4. Know your Trust purpose: It is surprising how many Trustees are unclear on the actual purpose and maybe have never even read the Trust Deed to see the original purposes.
Yes! Be clear on what the purpose is and let it guide decisions.
No! Put the Trust Deed in a drawer and not look at it for 10 years.

Your rating out of 10?______

5. Know the purpose behind the purpose: Think about and understand how the day to day and month to month work is of value – know your “why”. In many cases there are deep needs which are being met by each trust
Yes! Know your why (if you have not seen the Simon Sinek video, google it)
No! Don’t forget the real reason behind the activity and work being done.

Your rating out of 10?______

6. Plan ahead: Think long term not short term – discuss finances, properties, succession for your board, strategy, growth, is this Trust relevant …
Yes! In 5 years I think our landscape will have changed so here is what we need to do to prepare…
No! Where shall we hold our next meeting?

Your rating out of 10?______

7. Trust board size: I think optimum size is 4 to 6 Trustees. Many Trust Boards are more, but once you get above 8 the opportunity for participation drops. This results in a drop of enjoyment (less sense of contribution) and also reduces the quality of decision making because discussion is more limited.
Yes! Keep boards efficient by not growing them too large.
No! Don’t get too big - boards that have crept up above 10 are like a parliament and are also far more difficult to chair.

Your rating out of 10?______

8. Increasing need for professionalism as a Trustee: There is a growing need to create a culture of continuous improvement or learning within the Trusteeship itself. Have a view that you can never stop learning. Governance is a high calling.
Yes! Trustees ought to be encouraged to read material that takes them a bit further in their journey of understanding what it is to a Trustee and how to contribute.
No! Just wing it.

Your rating out of 10?______

9. Who should be on a Trust Board? In a small charity this may be a luxury but the ideal answer is someone who has both a strong belief in the vision and purpose of the Trust as well as a particular skill set that the Trust most needs.
Yes! Consider skill sets around tangible matters e.g. finances, property matters, operational issues but also the soft issues – the ability to think strategically, a high EQ and focus on building a great team.
No! Don’t focus on one set of skills instead aim for a diversity of thought.

Your rating out of 10?______

10. The right Chair? Good outcomes are largely the result of effective meetings and effective meetings are not possible if the Chair is not suited to the task. A good Chair creates an environment of respect, fair opportunity to speak, but without restricting candor and ensuring discussions do not go on any longer than necessary and a clear conclusion is reached. Also, if the organisation is large enough to have employed staff then the relationship between the Chair and the Chief Executive is a critical one.
Yes! Have those awkward conversations to ensure that the person most suitable to facilitate good meetings is the Chair.
No! Like all of these points, don’t continue on if change is needed.

Your rating out of 10?______

Some resources:

Simon Sinek, “The Power of Why - YouTube Video

“Joan Garry’s Guide to Non-profit Leadership (because non-profits are messy)”.

“Good to Great and the Social Sectors” – Jim Collins (speaker on commercial/corporate leadership, but has good things to say for charity leadership as well).

“Boards that Lead” – Charan, Carey and Useem.

In terms of podcasts there a number of great leaders who speak to the leadership area including Andy Stanley and Carey Nieuwhof.

Seeds is a podcast I have been doing each Tuesday interviewing people for an hour on what they do and why – often this includes people who have started or run charities www.seeds.libsyn.com

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